THE ROYAL AIR FORCE FLYING-BOAT CRUISE

Log of the Far East Flight from England to Karachi


The log of the flight is as follows:

Friday October 14th 1927

Felixstowe to Plymouth. - 276miles.(4hr 5inins. 08Knots.)

Flight left Felixstowe in formation at 09.00 and landed at Cattc Water at 13.05 after a rather unpleasant flight in rain and thick mist. The boats were moored to the outer buoys off the Air Station and refuelled to 400 gallons, with the assistance of Care and Maintenance Party; the fuel, in 5-gallon drums, being towed out to the flying boats in dinghies.

Saturday October 15th

Plymouth

Aircraft inspected by Naval Commander in Chief, Plymouth, and by Air Officer Commanding No.10 Group, the latter arriving by air from Calsliot. Length of rubber joint to

radiator bottom Water connection increased to1ft.on all aircraft to relieve vibration stresses at this point. A new radiator was fitted to S.1151.

Sunday October 16th

Plymouth.

Extensions to foot rail supplied by Supermarines were fitted. Southampton S.1125 flew over from Calshot with engine starter parts as spares for the flight.

Monday October 17.

Plymouth to Hourtin (Bordeaux).380miles. (5hrs.5mius.;75knots.)

The flight took off informationat 09.00 in the presence of the Naval Commander in Chief, and were escorted out of the Sound by Air Officer Commanding No.10Group, in Southampton N.9900. Until Ushant was reached, the clouds were low,With rain squalls and a following wind,up to25 knots at 1,000ft. After Ushant,the weather cleared and the wind dropped. The ftight landed information at Hourtin at14.05.and secured to buoys near the French Seaplane Station at the north end of the lake.

The refuelling was carried out from four-gallon tins towed out to the flying boats in dinghies. The flight was hospitably received by the French, who transported the fuel to the flying-boats and entertained tin officers of the flight in their Mess. The officers were accommodated at the French Air Station, and the airmen slept in the flying boats.

Tuesday October 18th

Hourtin.

The Air Attache. Paris, flew down to meet the flight and remained until the following day, when he went on to Berre to render any assistance that might be required there. The Officer Commanding the French Air Station and several of his officers visited the flying-boats. The wind was light and variable with heavy rain during the afternoon.

Wednesday October 19

Hourtin to Berre(Marseillesi.) 310miles. {4hrs.25nuns.;70knots.)

The flight took off in formation at 08.20, and arrived at Berre at 12.45. Except for a patch of fog in the vicinity of Bordeaux, which the flight aircraft were moored to the Air Station flying boat moorings, which were quite satisfactory.The flight was nosnitably received by the French Air Station,and the Officer Commanding the French Naval Aviation stations in the district flew over specially to welcome them.

The officers lunched at the French airs tation,after which all the aircraft were refuelled to 450gallons by the same method as in Hourtin. Several French officers including the commanding officer of the French seaplane station and Commandant of the French military aviation base at lastres. were shown over the aircraft during the afternoon. Half the officers and airmen slept ashore at the air station and half on board the aircraft.

Thursday October 20th

At Berre.—Flight remained at Berre.

Weather fine with light northerly breezes. Several flying officers from Istrcx and three technical officers from Paris arrived at lierre to see the Southampton's

Four officers and four airmen slept ashore; remainder on board the aircraft

Friday October 21st

Berre – Naples 440Miles.(7hrs.)

The flight took off in formation at 08.00 for Naples.The wind was light variable at first, later N.L10 knot. And dually, southerly 5 knots; visibility fair. Two French twin-engine flying-boats escorted the flight as far as Toulon.

Half-an-hour before reaching Cap Corse, in most northerly point of Corsica, S.1150 reported a bad oil leak from tin-starboard engine. She carried on, however, until able to land in a small bay on the east side of Cap Corse. After twenty minutes in the water she took off again and rejoined the formation, which had remained in the air. The leak arose from a cracked nipple when the oil pressure gauge pipe is joined to the engine; this was blanked off temporarily.

Course was then taken for Naples, which was reached without further incident at 15.00hrs. The flight landed in formation at Nisida Island, and moored to special moorings close to the Italian seaplane station. The flight was welcomed by the British Consul-General, the Air Attache, and the Officer commanding the Italian sea planes station. Four officers and four airmen on board the aircraft, the remaining officers in Naples; the four others at the Italian seaplane station.

Saturday October 22nd

At Naples.

The officer commanding flight, with the Air Attache, called on the General of the District,the Admirals of the area and port and various local officials. The day was spent on general overhaul work and cleaning down.

Sunday October 23rd

At Naples

During the forenoon the wind increased to 25-30m.p.h. from as southerly direction, with heavy rain and low cloud. Aircraft being under the Ire of Nisida Island, were quite safe at their moorings although, owing to the wind eddies from tin rocky island they swayed about somewhat, and a good deal of snatching at mooring wire took Place

Monday October 24th

At Naples.

Wind shifted to a westerly direction decreased considerably although it still remained gusty. The afternoon was spent showing various Italian officers over the aircraft. All the personnel slept on board the Flying-boats except two airmen, who slept at the Italian air station. Throughout the stay at Naples the flight was given every assistance by the Italian air station.

Tuesday October 25th

Naples - Brindisi.230Miles.(3hr-4mins.(3 knots.)

At 07.50 the flight took off independently in Necida Harbour. On account of the swell outside the harbour,and in order to avoid the cliffs and high telegraph wires, it was necessary to take off downwind. The ttin-time was cast 5m.p.h. The flight flew over Naples in formation before setting course down the coast.

Luckily the clouds were high,so that the flight were able to cross over the mountains on the"Heel and Toe"of Italy at 5,000ft., and proceed direct to Brindisi thus avoiding the necessity of following the coast right round,an additional distance of about 220 miles. The land crossings amounted to ??? miles altogether.

The Mooring site,close to the air station and opposite the civil seaplane Station ,was quite satisfactory ,although rather close to the shipping channel. The buoys were not specially laid, the flight using Ordinary ship moorings.

The flight was welcomed by the officers of the Italian seaplane base and the Air Apache, Rome, who had preceded the flight to ensure that all was ready for them

The fuel was pumped direct from200-litre barrels into the aircraft tanks by means of the aircraft refuelling pump and hose. Refuelling was completed by dark and the officers,except the duty officer, then went ashore to Brindisi. Four of the Airmen Slept at the Italian Air Station and four in the fling-boats.

Wednesday October 26th

At Brindisi.

The Officer Commanding Flight, with the Air Attaché, Rome, called on the British Vice-Consul, the Prefect, and the S.N.O.

The afternoon was spent showing Julian officers and officials over the Southampton.

It was found more comfortable and convenient for all airmen to sleep in the flying-boats, and this was done.

During the day a cable was received from Athens stating that the fuel had not yet arrived at Suda Bay although despatched a week before by motor

caique. The cable added that possibly moorings and fuel could be arranged at the Greek air station at Phaieron Bay, Athens. Air Ministry were sent acopy of this cable and informed that the flight would remain at Brindisi pending another cable from Athens.

Thursday October 27th

At Brindisi.

Aircraft were fuelled up to 500 gallons of petrol first thing in the morning incase enough petrol was not available at Athens. A further cable was received from Athens stating thatnothing had been heard of the petrol caique. It was therefore decided to fly to Athens at dawn on Friday and carry on to Suda Bay if the petrol had arrived there. A cable was sent to Athens notifying this decision and the quantity of fuel required. An additional 5-gallon drum of oil was taken on board each flying boat. All personnel slept on board.

Friday October 28th

Brindisi-Athens.340miles.(4hrs.55mins.; 69 knots)

A fine morning with 4/10 cloud and N.W. wind of 15m.p.h.the flight took off in formation just before daylight and had a good flight to Phaleron Bay, which was reached at 10.20. The wind during the flight was variable but mainly favourable. The flight secured to seaplane moorings in the Greek air station, and since the winds were light northerly, rode quite safely and comfortably. The flight was met by officers from the Greek air station, and by officers of British Mission under Wing-Commander Edmonds. As there was still no news of the petrel caique all the aircraft were refuelled to 500 gallons without difficulty from 40-gallon barrels in preparation for the direct flight to Aboukir on the following day.

The Officer Commanding Flight with Wing-Commander Edmonds, called the President, the Minister of Marine, the Prime Minister and the Officer Commanding the Greek air station. The head of the British Legation, the Minister of Marine and several Greek officers were shown over the Southamptons during the afternoon. All the Personnel slept on board the boats.

Saturday October 29th

Athens-Aboukir.500miles.(6hrs mins.;76knots)

The flight left Phaieron Bay in formation at 06.25 wind at the time being nil. Shortly after taking off the wind sprang up and increased to N.J520 knots, afterwards as the Egyptian coast was approached , decreased to N.E.10 knots. A few rain storms were flown though between Athens and Crete. The weather, however, cleared up afterCrete and Alexandria was sighted dead ahead at 12.20hrs.

He flight landed in formation at 12.55,and were met by Group Captain Board, representative Air Officer Commanding Middle East,and Group Capt. Brooke Commanding the Royal Air Force Depot. All the personnel were accommodated at the Royal Air Force Depot.

Sunday October 30th and Monday , October 31st

At Aboukir.

Were spent on routine inspections, overhauls and cleaning down.

Tuesday November 1st

At Aboukir.

S.I151 was fitted with one Aboukir made propeller for air tests and made a satisfactory flight of 10 min. with it. Flying boats refuelled to 500gallons.

Wednesday November 2nd

At Aboukir.

Routine inspections completed The flight were most hospitably treated at Aboukir and everything possible was done to assist them.

Thursday November 3rd

Aboukir-Alexandretta.440 miles.(6 hrs.30mins.;68knots).

The flight left Aboukir in formation at 06.00hrs. After flying through or round frequent heavy thunder storms, landed at Alexandretta at 12.30 and secured to buoys laid off the town. W/T could not be used during the early part of this flight owing to the thunderstorms.

The petrol (in 4-gallon tins) was brought alongside each flying boat in small lighters directly the flight had secured to the buoys, and refuelling to 500 gallons per boat was completed in about 2hrs.

The officers were quartered with various residents,the duty officer and the airmen slept on board the flying-boats. There was heavy rain during the evening and night.

Friday November 4th

At Alexandretta

S.l150 found it necessary to change both airscrews as the brass on each blade had begun to bulge and drew the fastenings. A test flight of 10mins.was carried out to test the new airscrew?. This was quite satisfactory. Many visitors inspected the flying-boats.

All officers and airmen slept on board the flying boats.

Saturday November 5th

Alexandretta-Ramadi. (8hrs.30mins.; 49knots).

Rain fell in the early morning but cleared away before daybreak, allowing the flight to leave in formation at 06.00, the wind being S.W.5m.p.h. Some difficulty was experienced in getting through the pass in the mountains behind Alexandrctta, owing to the down currents and low clouds. One French aeroplane(Breguet) accompanied the flight through the mountains and was joined by several others near-Aleppo. These aero planes escorted the flight as far as the river and then returned to Aleppo.

After crossing the mountains it was found that there was an easterly wind of about 25 knots on the surface and even flying low over the desert at 200ft. It was only possible to average 45 knots ground speed. At 0815 the river Euphrates was reached at Meskene and course set along it.

At 1,000ft.the airspeed was increased to75 knots as progress was still slow. From 0830 until 1130, the flight was passing through heavy rain,which later gave way to dust. The clouds during this period were about 400ft.,and the visibility a few hundred yards. As a more or less direct course was steered, the flight was some times over the river, but more often over the desert and in many Arab camps the low flying formation caused considerable movement amongst the cattle and people. At 09.35 Baghdad reported the wind as being S.E. 25m.p.h. At the surface and 51MPH at 1,000ft. It then became obvious that unless the weather improved, the flight had insufficient fuel left to reach Baghdad. At 12.30 the ground speed again dropped to 50 knots and it was decided to land at Ramadi – 60 miles from Hinaidi, and refuel from the emergency landing ground there

The flight, therefore, landed one by one in the river at14.30 and rode to their anchors for the night. Thirty gallons of petrol was taken in by each boat during the evening by means of one of the collapsible dinghies, no local boats being available.

During the later stages of the flight the atmospherics stopped W/T. Communication between the flight and Baghdad. On landing at Ramadi, it was found that land line communication had been stopped by the storm and it was late in the evening before asignal could be got through that the flight was safe at Ramadi, and needed no assistance.

Sunday November 6th

Kamadi-Hinaidi.60Miles(1hr. 10 mins 51knots)

Owing to an unfavourable weather report from Baghdad the flight did not leave at 06.00 as intended. At 08.00 heavy rains set in, but cleared enough to allow the flight to leave at 09.35. All the aircraft grounded lightly on sandbanks, whilst worming through. The sandbanks could not be seen either from the air beforel anding, or from the surface and they were difficult to locate by sounding whilst taxying. All the aircraft without damage. After I hour and 10 minutes flying, the flight landed at Hinaidi in succession and secured to special moorings laid by the RAF Depot. The river channels were clearly buoyed and the arrangements made by the Royal Air Force were excellent. The personnel were welcomed by the Air Officer Commanding Iraq, who immediately inspected the Southamptons

All the personnel slept ashore during the stay at Hinaidi. A shore guard was arranged by Officer Commanding Depot to watch the Flying ,boats during the night, whilst a motorboat was also kept standing by.

Heavy thunder storms were experienced during the evening but the Flying boats were quite secure at their moorings.


Monday November 7th

at Hinaidi.

All aircraft were refuelled to 400 gallons during the forenoon. This was carried out by mean of 5-gallon drums brought out in dinghies. As is usual with 5-gallon drums, the petrol was dirty and trouble Was experienced with there fuelling pump filter choking up.

S.1149 found both wood airscrews had similar defects to those found in 1150 at Alexandretta. As the spares for the flight had not arrived at Hinnaidi, temporary repairs were carried out which lasted to Basra, where two new wooden airscrews were fitted.

Tuesday November 8th

At Hinaidi.

The Air Officer Commanding, King Ali and his Prime Minister, inspected the flying boats during the morning and King Ali was taken for a short flight over Baghdad in S.1151. He

expressed great interest and pleasure in thee experience.

All the personnel of the flight were inoculated against cholera at Hinai hospital .as there was an epidemic in Iraq at the time.

Wednesday November 9th

At Hinaidi.

Many visitor-were shown over the flying boats during the day. During the stay at Hinaidi great hospitality was shown to the flight, and everything possible was done to make the personnel comfortable and assist with the work.

Tuesday November 10th

Hinaidi-Basra. 260 Miles.(4hrs.; 55 knots).

At 09.00, the flight took off in succession and after circling Hinaidi in formation, proceeded down the Tigris to Deala, and thence to the Euphrates and down that river to Basra, which was reached at 13.00. the weather throughout was perfect, the wind being light S.E. breezes.

The four buoys for the flying boats were situated on the left side of the river opposite the Royal Air Force Depot. The river at this point is about 100 yards wide, and has a current of about ??knots. The great objection to this mooring site is the native boat traffic which passes constantly day and night ,and, if there is no wind, completely out of control. To guard against this serious risk, an officer of the flight was detailed to patrol in a Motor Boat during the hours of darkness, and a guard boat was anrhored at each end of the line of moorings with an officer and four airmen on board with an Aldis lamp which lit up any passing craft. The search light from the gun boat, Grayfly, was also turned on to the flying-boats at intervals during the night. These precautions kept the flight free from damaged uring their stay, but many native craft had to be towed Clear and one lightly fouled a flighting boat without damaging it.

During the afternoon the flying-boats were refuelled to 400 galls, from 5 gallon drums brought out in dinghies. All the personnel slept ashore at the R.A.F. Depot.

Friday November 11th

Armistice Day at Basra.

The two minute silence was observed on board the flying-boats at 11.00hours local time.

A cable was received during the day giving the disposition of H.M. Ships in the Persian Gulf, also a cable from Bushire stating that quarantine I cholera was unavoidable at Persian ports and the personnel could not be allowed to land in Persia. The flight were most hospitably received and given every available assistance at Basra.

Saturday November 12th

Basra-Bushlre 190miles.

The flight took off in succession at0 7.55, escorted by five D.H.9's from the squadron at Shaiba. The weather was perfect, and after an uneventful flight the flying boats flew over H.M.S. Enterprise, which was anchored six miles off Bushire, and landed in the harbour at 10.40.

During the flight WT communication was established with several Merchant ships in the Gulf.

The seaplane moorings were laid inside the river opposite the town of Bushire, and were satisfactory in every way. The Presidency launch Personel immediately brouhaha out fuel which was shipped to the flying-boats in Native Iwiats and a naval dinghy from Enterprise.

All aircraft refuelled immediately to400galls.,after which the personnel had lunch on board the Perey Cot. The Persian Military Governor was shown over one of the boats and appeared to be impressed.

Except fur one duty officer, all the officers had dinner and spent the night on board HM.S. Enterprise.

Sunday November 13th

At Bushire.

Personnel not allowed land owing to quarantine, and the day was spent cleaning up the flying-boats

The river being free from sharks, bathing was permitted from the flying boats – the opportunity every one took advantage of, as the problem of baths,especially for the

airmen, is a difficult one. Enterprise left during the afternoon to meet the flight at Henjam, in accordance with orders issued by S.N.O., Persian Gulf' The weather during the stay at Bushire was perfect, with a temperature of 80° F inside the hull and a light N.W. Wind.

Monday, November 14.

Bushire to Henjam, 348 Miles , (4 hrs 40 mins. ; 74 knots.)

A fine clear morning with N.E. Wind of 5 m.p.h. The flight took off in succession at 07.30 and, by request, passed over the town in formation At 10.10 course was altered to pass over Enterprize 10 miles off Sez Kais. The flight flew past her in close formation. Helped by a steady following breeze, the flight made good time along the desolate coast, Landing at Hemjam at 12. 10

Refuelling to 4(10 galls, was immediately carried out from native boats, 4 gall. tins being used. The mooring and refuelling facilities were entirely satisfactory.

The captain of H.M.S. Triad visited the flight and was shown over one of the flying-boats. Five officers slept on H.M.S. Triad, two were put up ashore by the Superintendent of Telegraph. The airmen slept on board the Flying boats. and went on board Triad for food & Baths.

Henjam is a small, barren, rocky island which is used as a base by H.M. Ships stationed in the Gulf. The Navy have made a golf course, Cricket ground, and tennis court. There is also' a small club for officers and canteen for ratings The Persian Gulf telegraphs, have a telegraph and W.T. station

on the island, and go-downs for naval stores

Tuesday November 15th

At Henjam

The Captain of H.M.S. Enterprise and my Officers' from Enterprise and Triad and the local naïve authorities were shown over the aircraft. Flying Officer Scott was taken sick during the day and was treated by the Medical Officer on Board H.M.S. Triad;

He was able to leave with the flight the following day. This was the only Case of sickness since the flight started, the general health of the crews being excellent. During the afternoon all personnel landed on Henjam Island for exorcise.

Wednesday November 16th

Henjam – Gwader 380 miles (5 hrs 0mins, : 66 knots)

The flight took off in formation at 07.30 hrs., the weather being perfect. Wind N.E., 5 m.p.h. And visability exceptional. During the flight W/T communication was maintained with the B.I. Mail steamer Parsova en route to Karachi from Basra

The mooring and fuel arrangements had been made from Karachi and were quite satisfactory, although the use of 2 gallon tins for the first time during the cruise made refuelling rather slow, as time is wasted opening the stoppers and tins cannot be emptied into the refuelling tank quickly enough to keep the refuelling pump supplied to it's full capacity. The flight only refuelled to 300 gallons per boat, so as to assist 'take off' in case the swell increased.

The flight was met by the Political Officer for Makran, who had travelled down from Ouetta with his escort to welcome the flight and render any assistance required In order to relieve him from another long journey by camel and car back to his district he was offered and accepted a passage to Karachi in one of the boats of the light. All the flight personnel slept on board the flying – boats

Thursday November 17th

At Gwader

Officers and airmen landed in relays for exercise during the day. During the morning a breeze blew up from the East and a considerable swell rose immediately, enough probably to prevent a take-off with full load. Later the wind died down but a slight swell remained all the time the flight were at Gwada. The local representative of the Sultan of Muscat and other local notables visited the boats. All the personnel slept on board.

 Friday November 18th

Gwadar – Kararchi, 260 Miles (3 hrs. 35 mins, ; 72 Knots)

The flight took-off in formation at 07 30, there being no wind at the time, a clear sky and good viability. Owing to the swell the flying boats taxied under the lee of the promontory and took off along th swell. No trouble was experienced and all took off well. Captain Smith, the politcal Officer was taken as passenger in S 1150 and expressed his appreciation for the trip.

A few miles off Karachi the flight were met by an escort of D.H.9As and Bristol Fighters from Royal Air Force Depot. The flying Boats landed in Karachi harbour in succession at 10 55 and were met by G. O.C Sind Officer Commanding Royal Air Force Depot. And many local Officials.

The moorings for the flving-boats are lain in the river opposite the Shipping wharves, and are quite satisfactory ecept that a constant stream of traffic passes close to the aircraft, and there is a danger of collision, particularly when the wind drops and the sailing craft are drifting on the tide. Arrangements have been made with the harbour police to have patrol boats constantly on watch, and an officer and four airmen are always kept on board the Flying - Boats to act as a guard.